[Maxima] How understanding is Maxima?

Bob Baker b_baker at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 17 17:26:06 CDT 2008

I have a question about systems like Maxima I would like to ask members of this group.  I posted it in the Maple forum and didn't generate much discussion, but I think this is a more suitable group.   I will start by posing a problem:
Let C be a unit circle and let P be a point on C.  Draw a bigger circle B with P as center which crosses C at two diametrically opposed points of C.  What is the area of the crescent-shaped region inside C and outside B?
This problem has a simple answer, but whether the solution is simple depends on the solution method chosen.  I can solve the problem in my head without even a pocket calculator if I choose the right solution method.
Now here is my real question.  Is there a "neutral" way to pose this problem to Maxima?  By that I mean to pose it as I have to you, without presupposing a particular solution method.  Or, would that make Maxima a different kind of system from what it is, and if so, what do you call that kind of system?
Bob Baker
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